Nearly half (48%) of British shoppers would like to see clearer labelling on products with plastic-free packaging, according to research from compostable packaging company Tipa.
The study revealed that 39% of consumers think retailers should be made to have a plastic-free aisle in every store. More than a quarter (29%) go further and believe every store should be completely plastic-free.
When considering the use of compostable packaging formats – packaging that breaks down completely and leaves no trace on the environment – almost half (46%) of UK consumers say they think compostable packaging is under-utilised by brands.
Likewise, nearly half (49%) of shoppers would welcome the introduction of labelling to identify that packaging is compostable.
When asked about flexible plastic packaging, used for many single-use products which are mostly non-recyclable, more than half (54%) of British shoppers say they check labelling before throwing these items in the regular refuse bin. However, confusion still exists in certain quarters as more than one in five consumers (21%) admit to throwing flexible packaging in the recycling bin because they didn’t know it wasn’t eligible for recycling.
Tipa CEO Daphna Nissenbaum said: “It’s great to see that public yearning is driving the service industry to rethink its relationship with flexible plastic packaging, which is often non-recyclable. We’re now at a point where people better understand the damage of plastic waste and are keen to reduce their carbon footprint but aren’t always sure how best to go about it.
“This often leads people to play it safe with packaging they aren’t sure is recyclable, due to unclear or unlabelled packaging, and end up using the wrong receptacles. This can cause unnecessary strain on recycling centres that have to sift through hundreds of tonnes of non-recyclable matter.”
She added: “The majority of people just want to do the right thing in a way that fits their busy lives. It is therefore incumbent on stakeholders in retail, groceries and the wider supply chain to clearly demarcate which packaging is plastic-free and which is suitable for recycling. By supporting consumers in this way, they will inspire greater brand trust among a public whose conscientiousness with plastic waste is only going to grow further in the future.”
The study comes as the UK government launches a consultation on the introduction of a new plastic packaging tax, in a move to encourage producers to use packaging that is easier to recycle.